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Schultz Sweepstakes Settled, Hype vs Reality Next

July 5, 2012 Leave a comment

He hasn’t even played one NHL game yet, and already Justin Schultz is starting to annoy me.

The Edmonton Oilers agreed to terms with the 22 year old on June 30, ending months of speculation as to which NHL uniform would have his last name stitched on the back of it.

Prior to the media inventing the “Schultz Sweepstakes” schmozzle that began to elevate his billing to an inaccurate Sidney Crosby level (you may remember the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes of 2005), the kid did a lot of things right – he played Junior ‘A’ hockey rather than Major Junior, which qualified him to earn an NCAA scholarship, plus he got drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, before his arrival at the University of Wisconsin in 2009. He’s even from my hometown of West Kelowna, BC, Canada, and played with our local junior hockey team (Westside Warriors of the BCHL) from 2006-09. I’ve never met him, but there are a lot of reasons why I should back the kid.

But here’s where Schultz gets a little squirrely to me. My beef boils down to him seeming like a guy that started to believe his own hype, got a little selfish, and dictated his own future in a game that so many young, hopeful players would do/accept anything in order to play at its top level. And if you sense a tinge of jealousy in that statement on my part, it’s because I’m stocked full on it. I just don’t see how a player who hasn’t competed in a single NHL game could have so many teams falling at his feet to sign with them, especially a defenseman. It’s all just so…. Eric Lindros/Quebec Nordiques-ish.

Chronologically speaking, the first thing that bothers me is his seemingly cavalier approach to his college career. His play spoke for itself, winning him seven NCAA awards and two finalist nominations for player of the year while enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, so clearly he earned all the on-ice accolades he collected while there. But after playing out three of (presumably) four years of his eligibility/scholarship, Schultz withdrew from school, and walked away from another free year of education, and likely whatever degree he was working towards.

That move pretty well nullified his rationale of not playing Major Junior hockey in the first place (assuming he had the option as a teenager), and pursuing the college route that every hockey parent hopes their hockey playing child with NHL aspirations will choose instead.

On a personal note, as someone who played college hockey, earned a degree, and is still paying off student loans six years after completion, this move grinds me a little extra. I mean, he couldn’t have waited one more season, graduated, and jumped to the NHL the following season? There’s always the possibility of injury, a down year, or some other stock-dropping scenario to that option, I suppose. And also, when your paycheck is going to start including millions of dollars every year, securing a strong education for the purposes of landing a good paying job to secure your future in a struggling economy probably isn’t a high priority anymore.

Secondly, as an afore mentioned player who would have killed to play in the NHL myself, Schultz turning his nose at the team that drafted him rubs me the wrong way too. Granted, the Ducks sat on him long enough without pulling the trigger that he had the right as per the CBA to entertain offers from the 26 teams that expressed interest (just who were the four teams that didn’t even try, by the way?), so it’s not like Schultz technically did anything wrong here – it’s just that I never had any NHL team interested in me and would have taken anything passed my way (I’m not the only one), especially from the team that claimed me first; whereas Justin Schultz has size and a ton of talent that rightfully garnered him a plethora of interest from nearly every team in the world’s best hockey league once he became an option. The notion of rejecting an NHL team absolutely boggles my mind. If roles were reversed, I’d like to think I would have chosen loyalty and stuck with Anaheim, personally. I was never good enough to find myself sitting in the position he was though, and maybe if the freedom of options that were plunked in his lap were given to me, I very well may have gotten selfish with my future residence too — especially if I had received a persuasive phone call from Wayne Gretzky to try and seal the deal.

Without knowing him personally, I doubt Schultz desired the attention his situation drew, but it certainly was enough to generate an amount of widespread interest that I assume produced a better offer than Anaheim was tabling to him. Good on the kid for getting the amount of money and location that he wanted, not many players get to do that.

Whether you agree with what he did or not, the deal’s done, and the onus now is on Schultz alone to deliver on his own hype. I don’t see it being easy for him – he’s used to playing less than 50 games a year in the NCAA against lower (than the NHL’s) caliber, compared to the NHL’s 82. The NCAA has produced its share of future NHL talent though (Toews, Parise, Miller, Thomas, Keith, Heatley, Kesler, St. Louis, Kessel, etc), so don’t look too far down your nose at the talent pool he most recently developed in. Also, he’ll be no stranger to the travel rigors of playing all over the continent, so that will work in his favor. But beyond that, I don’t have any other bones to throw him.

As we’ve been doing since this all started, all we can do until October when Schultz lines up for his first faceoff as an Oiler is continue to speculate as to whether he will turn out to be the star that some believe he will be, the bust that others predict, or just an average player in the league. Playing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov can’t hurt his chances of success – but we’ll see how reality plays out soon enough.

And truthfully, although this little situation does annoy me, I am pulling for the hometown kid to live up to his billing.

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Cam Paddock Content To Continue Hockey Career Abroad

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

[Originally published in the Kelowna Daily Courier newspaper on Friday, June 22/2012]

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After tough season, Paddock sets sights on Europe

FRIDAY, 22 JUNE 2012 02:00 DAVE CUNNING

Had things played out a little differently this past season, a former Kelowna Rocket could have had his name on the Stanley Cup this year.

Unfortunately for Cam Paddock, things didn’t quite work out that way.

Paddock, who played five seasons with the Rockets from 1999 to 2004 and won a Memorial Cup with them, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings on Sept. 26, 2011.

Two years prior, he had appeared in 16 games with the St. Louis Blues, until being sent back to the AHL. This past season, it seemed Paddock had been given his second chance in the NHL.

Looks can be deceiving though, and the deal turned out to be too good to be true – L.A. released him two days later, and reassigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.

“They basically offered me the contract and cut me at the same time,” said Paddock. “I came back to Vancouver and mulled the offer over at home before I signed it.

“I jumped in my car and drove 52 hours out to Manchester the next day.”

After a strong showing at L.A.’s training camp, and a contract offer from them, Paddock felt he was lined up for a season ripe with opportunity with the Kings’ affiliate.

However, Paddock’s hope slowly dwindled. After scoring two goals, three assists for five points with 44 penalty minutes and a minus-10 rating in 39 games, Paddock seemed to be a fixture on the team’s fourth line.

“I thought that I had a really good training camp,” said Paddock, 29. “I was told certain things by L.A., got sent to Manchester and then had their coach looking at me like I was playing with the wrong-handed stick.

“I assumed I was going to be the same third-line centre that I had been the past four years that I’d played in the league, but it didn’t work out that way. The coaches were feeding me the ‘work hard and you’ll get your opportunity’ rhetoric you get told when you’re a 21-year-old starting out in pro hockey, and playing me on the fourth line. I haven’t done that in five years. It was discouraging. I already know how to work hard, and what kind of player I am.”

“On some teams, you can do no wrong in the eyes of the coach. On other teams, it seems you can do no right,” continued Paddock. “It was the latter in Manchester for me. That’s just how it goes sometimes. It was a weird year.”

Playing with the Monarchs did, however, offer him the chance to play with Dwight King (his older brother D.J. played with Paddock in Kelowna), Slava Voynov, Jordan Nolan and Andrei Loktionov – all whom were recalled by L.A. and were contributors to the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory.

“They were all very good players with a ton of NHL ability,” Paddock said. “Dwight’s a really good guy and probably an even better hockey player. Loktionov and Voynov are both super-skilled. Slava’s nickname was Slava-bomb because his slapshot is about as hard as they come. Jordan is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever seen in the AHL. I was happy to see them all get a chance to go up there, and do as well as they did.”

As good as they are, though, none of them are household names on the Kings’ roster. In fact, one could make the case that other Monarchs could have done as good of a job as those call-ups had they got the call instead.

“Sometimes it comes down to whether you had a good week, or if a certain person saw you play a good game somewhere,” Paddock said. “Those guys are their young draft picks that they are developing. They deserve it, they work hard.

“But as far as them getting a chance instead of me, it’s a pretty fine line when you get down to it. In a lot of cases, it’s youth and size more than anything, I’d say.”

Perhaps if Darryl Sutter, who replaced Terry Murray as L.A.’s head coach back in December, had seen Paddock in training camp, things might have worked out differently.

“I thought about that when he got the job,” said Paddock. “I don’t know if it would have really made a difference, but the Sutter brothers are from Western Canada, and I know Darryl had seen me play when he was with Calgary and I was with St. Louis. I’d like to think that maybe it would have helped me out. But in saying that, he had only come to L.A. in a coaching role rather than a managerial one.

“The best-case scenario for me with Sutter would have been him putting a bug in someone’s ear about me when I was down the depth chart in Manchester and not playing. I’m sure he had enough to worry about in L.A. and wouldn’t have been too concerned.

“It definitely worked out good for Colin Fraser, though, who played for Brent Sutter in Red Deer. When Darryl got there, he knew exactly what kind of player he was and he trusted him. Colin is a good player – I played against him all over and I respect him -Â but to be candid, I think he’s six of one and I’m half a dozen of the other.”

On Jan. 26th, Kings president Dean Lombardi released a statement saying Paddock’s contract had been terminated – freeing him to return to play in Germany’s DEL.

In 13 games with the Augsburger Panther, Paddock recorded three goals, five assists for eight points, plus 20 PIMs and a plus-five rating.

“For my career, I had to make a move,” Paddock said. “Going back to Europe became the best option for me. It sucks to say, but as far as the NHL goes, with as disappointing as the year was this year, I’m done with it.

“To have the experience I had in Manchester, you realize the team really has nothing invested in you. I’m happy I got my 16 NHL games in, but now I’m looking forward to playing more years in Europe. It’s a cool lifestyle, it’s a different culture and there’s opportunity to climb the ranks over there instead.

“I really liked Augsburger’s coach. He was a very honest guy that told me exactly what I was there to do and didn’t make any promises he didn’t keep. I got along with him well. I really liked the fans, and we had a good group of guys on the team. It will be a lot of fun going back to that, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Before signing his next overseas contract, Paddock will have to wait until the NHL’s CBA is worked out – the result of which will determine whether an import spot will be available for him, rather than a North American orphan looking for a European team. It’ll give him more time to ponder his future.

“If I could play for another five or six years, I’d be happy,” Paddock said. “But it has to make sense. I feel really good, I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been, and I still really like playing and being around the guys. Playing the game’s still fun for me, and that’s the main thing.”

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Gerry Dee Kelowna Stand-Up Wrap-Up

January 24, 2012 1 comment

Just a quick one….. 

Got a chance to see Gerry Dee’s stand-up set in Kelowna on Sunday night…. great show by Mr.D — hilarious as expected. If you live in Kelowna, did you go to the show? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below.

I got to meet Gerry after the show, and he even remembered our interview from a few weeks prior, which was cool. I got him to sign the Kelowna Daily Courier article that I wrote to promo the event, and even got a pic. Great guy, great show. Great interaction with fans too. If you missed him this time, don’t next time! Watch Mr.D Monday nights on CBC in the mean time. He’s a good follow on Twitter too. @gerrydee @mrd_on_cbc 

Below is the article.

-Dave

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Originally published in the Kelowna Daily Courier, Saturday January 21st, 2012

They say laughter is the best medicine. With a new show on the air, a nationwide stand-up comedy tour in progress, and a new book soon to hit store shelves, Gerry Dee might be the cure for anyone’s seasonal ailments.

Gerry’s “Life After Teaching” tour makes a stop at the Kelowna Community Theatre on January 22nd. I was able to catch his last performance in town, and let me tell you from experience, the guy is hilarious and worth the price of admission.

“It’ll be my third time in Kelowna,” recollected Dee. “I always look forward to it – such a beautiful city. I only get to stay for a day, but I think it’s gorgeous there.”

Dee’s family friendly material will be refreshing to experience for anyone who’s been turned off from live stand-up comedy by overly explicit and crass comedians in the past.

“I’ve got a lot of new material since last time I was in town,” Dee said. “There’s a lot of stuff about being a parent and a husband. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to say. Sometimes I talk to the crowd a bit, sometimes I mix it up – there’ll be a little bit of everything.”

Interestingly, Gerry was born Gerard Donoghue, but later changed his name to Gerry Dee to conceal his identity while performing stand-up.

“When I really started standup, I just didn’t want anyone to know,” admitted Dee. “I wanted to be quiet about it because I was teaching still. It was easier to say and spell. I thought it was good to separate myself so people I knew didn’t know I was doing it when I started.”

Dee was a school teacher in Ontario when we decided to wanted to take a shot at pursuing his passion for comedy. Gerry gained some traction in the field – appearances at comedy festivals eventually turned into TV and movie parts. Now being viewed all over the world, remaining anonymous has become a whole lot tougher for him.

“Stand-up comedy started to take off for me,” said Dee. “If I really wanted to give it a chance, and pursue the whole spectrum of comedy, I needed to get away from teaching to try it. It was something I always felt like I wanted to try. I didn’t just quit teaching, I did both for a while, and then I took a chance when I started to make a little money at it. It definitely worked out.”

Gerry’s new show, “Mr.D”, airs Monday nights on CBC, and drew 1.23 million viewers of its debut episode. The show draws influence from Dee’s days as an educator in Ontario. Fans of his stand-up may recognize some of his comedy bits integrated into the script as well. The show’s third episode of twelve will air the night after Gerry’s Kelowna performance.

“We’re pleased with it,” Dee remarked. “We’ve had some great results as far as numbers from the first night, so we hope that continues. It’s loosely based on my life as a teacher. Some of it is exaggerated truth, some of it’s exactly how it was, some of it we just made up. It goes back and forth through the series.”

Gerry Dee fans may also recognize him from his regular gig as “Gerry Dee: Sports Reporter” on The Score sports network. Dee conducts humorous interviews with pro athletes, and usually forgets their names, spews bogus stats, or requires five or six takes to make the discussion air-worthy.

“It’s done on purpose,” Dee conceded. “Just having fun and playing with them; and throwing something at them they might not expect. It’s always been pretty positive with the guys. Most want to do it. My favorite interview was with Charles Barkley. My least favorite was John Daly, who wouldn’t even do the interview. I don’t know why he wouldn’t, you’d have to ask him. Sometimes they get a lot of requests, and people aren’t always respectful and bombard them sometimes.”

Dee has interviewed some of the biggest names in sports, such as Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. He even got “The Great One” to remember his name.

“Well, I just interviewed him ten minutes earlier, so that’s the only reason he knew who I was,” Dee acknowledged. “He’s a good guy and a legend. He was one of my heroes growing up, so it was cool to interview him.”

With plenty of 2012 remaining, expect to see much more from Gerry Dee this year. Follow him on Twitter @gerrydee and check out his official website www.gerrydee.com to keep afloat!

Listen to this interview in its entirety online at http://davecunning.wordpress.com

Movember Meltdown

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Upper lips, nationwide, are finally free.

So Movember is over. And with the end of Movember comes the shaving of the moustaches that plagued the faces of men for an entire month, and the immediate delight of wives and girlfriends everywhere.  While my wife was quite happy, I can not imagine that the wife of Ottawa Senators Captain Daniel Alfredsson is too pleased, as apparently no one gave Alfie the memo that the campaign is kaput. As you can tell by the photo on the right from December 5th, the Swede’s pushbroom still has plenty of sweeping to do. I’m sure he can always use the fall-back of “it’s European”, or “it’s the style right now in Sweden”, or some other excuse as to why it’s acceptable somewhere else that’s not where he is currently, so that should make it ok.

Now while I didn’t manage to raise any money for the Movember campaign, some groups did. Below is the press release I was sent from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets:

For Immediate Release – Dec. 7, 2011
The Kelowna Rockets raised a modest $755 as part of this CHL campaign and we have set our goals higher for next year.
This year we started two weeks into Movember and used Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about men’s health and ask for donations from followers. Next year we are already planning to step up the campaign and raise more money.
 Kevin Parnell, media relations
Kelowna Rockets
Call or text: 250-491-8407
E-mail: kevin@kelownarockets.com

Online:
kelownarockets.com
twitter.com/Kelowna_Rockets
facebook.com/Kelowna-Rockets

Check out the piece I wrote for the Kelowna Daily Courier on the Kelowna Rockets’ Movember efforts from November 18th, 2011 here.

And the WHL’s parent league, the CHL, took a tally from all the leagues under their umbrella. Here’s the report they sent me:

For Immediate Release – Dec. 7, 2011
Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the results of a league-wide initiative where 39 teams consisting of 563 registered members raised $128,222 through their participation in Movember in support of men’s health and prostate cancer awareness.

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in Canada and around the world.  The annual month-long moustache growing and appreciation charity event helps raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer.

With the over $128,000 raised, the CHL Network ranked 14th among all registered Canadian networks.  The winning CHL team in terms of total fundraising dollars are the “MOfficials” consisting of Western Hockey League officials that raised $33,445 and finished as the 33rd ranked team in Canada.  Each of the regional leagues were represented in the CHL’s top four with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen raising $13,972, followed by the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs at $11,251 and the QMJHL’s P.E.I Rocket raising $9,805.

IceDogs owner Bill Burke was the CHL’s top individual fundraiser and finished 96th in Canada raising $6,170.  Rocket rookie Patrick McGrath, an 18-year-old native of Wilkes-Barre, PA, earned top spot among CHL players with $5,690 raised.

“On behalf of the Canadian Hockey League I would like to congratulate all participants for their incredible amount of energy and commitment to raising awareness and funds for Movember and thank the many friends, family, sponsors, and fans of the CHL that contributed to such a worthy cause,” said CHL President David Branch.  “It was outstanding to see the tremendous support our players and teams received across the CHL in our first year that we are already looking forwarded to next year’s campaign and a continued partnership with Movember.”

The CHL helped contribute to the over $38 million raised by participants across Canada and the $108 million raised worldwide with an increase of over $30 million over the 2010 campaign.

The funds raised are directed to programs run directly by Movember and men’s health partner, Prostate Cancer Canada.  Together the two channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programs in line with strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE CHL MOVEMBER NETWORK PAGE <http://ca.movember.com/mospace/network/view/id/18234>

Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp 2011 Prize Pack Giveaway!

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The 2011 Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp is only 4 weeks away (August 3-7)!  This year’s line-up features Theo Fleury, Bryan Trottier, Bob Bourne, Billy Smith, Clark Gillies, Kelly Hrudey, Bob Nystrom, Dave Semenko, Doug Bodger, Larry Melnyk, Ron Flockhart — an incredible opportunity to meet and play with some of the NHL’s all-time best!

In honor of this year’s camp, I’m going to give away the pictured t-shirt (size L) and hat prize pack to the writer of the 9th coherent/legible/non-spam/hopefully topical comment on this article (<–click the link, I don’t mean this exact post)!  Good luck!

Counter-Productive Camo, Vanity Sanity, Taking Care, Dickfor, Invalid Validity & Demonizing Dog Punting.

December 17, 2010 1 comment

well, it looks like at least one guy can't see him.

Ok, so you’re in the military; I’ve legitimately got all the respect in the world for you. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but is it really necessary for you to be dressed in your camouflage fatigues at all times, even out in public, broad daylight, and basically anywhere you can’t hide and can be seen? Isn’t that technology supposed to help you blend in with your surroundings and keep you hidden and safe from enemies? Who are you fooling sitting in an airport LA-Z-Boy while reading the paper?

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The mindless things we say to each other… Why do we tell people to “take care” at the conclusion of an interaction? Sure, it sounds nice, and like you care about their well-being and all; but what are you really advising? Are people forgetting care at home when they leave? Is the notion of being careful lost upon a person unless they are reminded to take it with them? Are people noticeably more wreckless and accident/injury prone after wrapping up a conversation without this prompting?

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I recently heard some 10 year old kid using the classic “dickfor” joke on his friend, which I hadn’t heard since I was about his age.   Some juvenile gags never phase themselves out apparently.

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Is “Invalid” one of the most demeaning descriptive terms out there used to describe someone who is disabled?  I mean, so the person has some sort of physical limitation, now they’re no longer even a valid human being?  Come on, now. 

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I like it when people don’t BS and just call things the way they actually are. I took this pic of the Vanity Salon on Leon in Kelowna, because (in name, at least) finally there’s a salon that isn’t trying to fool anyone; this business promotes vanity, and is probably going to make you pay an exorbitant amount of money for something you could probably do almost as well by yourself at home. Beautiful.

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Gizmo (top left & snoozing bottom right) & Koko (top right/bottom left)

Why does everyone want to punt my dogs? Ok, so they’re small, yappy, and if there was such thing as a canine IQ test, I can’t say they’d score all that well. But I mean, come on, look at them. You’re telling me you’d actually, literally, line one of them up and try to put them through the uprights? You’re pure evil. Feel shame.

Vancouver 2010: The Good, The Bad; The Olympics.

February 13, 2010 7 comments

 

From the 2:30 mark, “The International Olympic Committee has the honor of announcing that the 21st Olympic games in 2010 are awarded to the city of….(dramatic pause)….Vancouver.”

I still remember ducking out of my hated construction labor job for 20 minutes in July of 2003; strategically hiding from my boss, taking refuge in my car which I parked out of plain view, reclining the seat and turning up the radio to hear the announcement being broadcast on a local station.  My hair stood straight up and chills ran down my spine when IOC President Jacques Rogge finally said “Vancouver.”  Unfortunately I had to go back to hating my job and life prompty after that, but they were 20 minutes I’ll never forget.  I still get those same chills even when I remember back to it now.  For seven years, I’ve been excited for Vancouver, and Canada, to host these winter Olympics.  I know I’m not the only one either.

An event like the Olympics effects not only one entire nation, but the entire world.  Anytime things of that magnitude occur, opposition naturally follows.  And that’s part of the beauty of our democratic societies; that we allow free speech, and people have the right to balk at things they believe are worth standing against.  Are there bad things that will come out of Canada hosting the games?  Surely.  The $500 million+ dollars pumped into these games could’ve been spent a lot of other ways; especially amongst a recovering economic recession.  Would we have ended homelessness in our country with that money?  Tough to say.  Were we not careful enough with the environment when constructing facilities?  Did we not represent the Indigenous people of Canada, and our other cultural origins correctly?  Did we go overboard on security in an attempt to keep terrorism and other threats to peace out of the picture?  Are there another 100 things that were not done to the liking of our 30 million residents?  Probably.  Is anyone actually making the case that we did things perfect?  Not likely.  Sometimes athletes cheat, sometimes there’s corruption in the IOC.  Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes they don’t.  Some countries get more money to train, and some have to just make due.  Personally, I don’t like the fact that our politicans and corporate sponsors ALL managed to get prime tickets to ALL the events, and the public was subject to an inane online lottery system.  Oh, and that some of those tickets cost $1000 or more.  Athletes get hurt, and probably more unfortunate than anything else, sometimes athletes are fatally injured; as in the case of Georgian Luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili.  So yeah, there’s a lot of imperfect things that the Olympics bring.

But can we think positively for at least 2 weeks?  If anyone who watched the opening ceremonies that saw the 60,000 Canadians packed into BC Place draped in red and white, waving the Maple Leaf, and resounding in excitement, thinks that Canadians aren’t pleased as punch to be hosting these games, well they couldn’t be more wrong.  For every stick in the mud, there’s an entire tree full of green, growing branches, reaching for the sky and enjoying their time in the sun.  And that’s exactly what Canada has before it; 2+ weeks to shine in international light.

Canadians love sport, and we love our athletes that compete for us as well.  The thing about athletics is it has the ability to transcend even the thickest cultural and international disagreements in the name of sportsmanlike competition.  If you need any proof of that, look at the nations of Iran and North Korea; absolutely scorned by the Western world as being on the brink of nuclear war with us.  But through all that justified tension, North Korea has sent a speed-skater, and Iran’s sent 2 skiers to compete in the Games; and to, if only briefly, join and be welcomed by the international community.  Even Israel and Lebanon will put aside differences to be a part of the Olympiad.  That’s powerful stuff.

Look at Ghana, Ethiopia, Nepal, and other impoverished countries that may or may not even see a flake of snow in their countries, but come to the Games with the support of their governments and train between full-time jobs to earn spots on their national rosters to compete because they believe that the Olympics are worth the effort and sacrifice necessary to get to them.  And really, that’s exactly what the Olympics are all about in their purest form; the best amateur athletes in the world, putting aside barriers, competing cleanly, for their country, to showcase the best that their human abilities have to offer in terms of their unique sport.

The thing is, there’s so much good to be harvested out of such a criticized event.  We ran a little flicker of a flame from Greece, around the entire planet, and through the streets and neighborhoods of nearly every city in our own country.  In Kelowna, we had a kid with cancer cut out a few days of his chemotherapy treatments so he could be a local torchbearer.  Many similarly touching stories laced our national torch relay as well.

We’ve come together as 6 continents to show that there’s at least one thing we can all be civil and peaceful about, if only for a short time.  The world of sport blends together with art and culture to put on a show unlike any other.  Our troops fighting for our freedom overseas gather around a TV, dressed in Canada clothing and sipping Tim Hortons’ coffee to watch the proceedings of Canadian icons Rick Hansen, Nancy Green, Betty Fox, Wayne Gretzky, and others completing the Olympic opening ceremonies.  We bought pairs of red mittens, various apparel, grocery items, and pretty well anything we could get our hands on that we either knew would support Canadian athletes financially, or just emblazoned “Canada” on them to show our support.

So, through all the things there are to protest against, there are plenty of others that Canadians are rightfully excited about.  How bananas are we going to all go when a Canadian wins our first gold medal that we’ve ever won on home soil?  Our when our hockey team(s) (hopefully) strike gold as well?  Between the Olympics and Paralympics, it’s going to be an exciting few weeks, and a historical moment for our country.  I hope you choose to enjoy them with the rest of us.  Go Canada go!

Stuff That Sucks 2: More Pictures Worth 500 Words.

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment
acme final

customerus stupidus

I was in the Safeway on the corner of Richter and Bernard in Kelowna the other day when I noticed, conspicuously placed on the bottom of the doors was the above sticker, notifying those who saw it that the store was being monitored by  Acme Protection Systems, Ltd.  My immediate thought was, of course, HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM WILE E COYOTE? Why do people continue to buy products from people dumb enough to name their company after people who supplied a cartoon Coyote with ineffective, often defective, and always deadly products for catching a roadrunner?  Why would you, as a business owner who could choose any name in the world, want that stigma attached to your products?  Is it worth the nostalgic reference?  I can just hear the Safeway manager saying to himself, “You know, the company I want to trust the millions of dollars worth of product and property in this store can only be safe in a company called Acme.  That makes sense to me.  Let me get my name on this contract right away.

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The Marketplace IGA in Glenmore recently supplied me with evidence of the

102220091743

the final showdown.

engagement of one of most epic battles of our time.  Yes folks, the people at General Mills have taken their flagship product of Cheerios into head-on warfare with Toucan Sam and his mighty Froot Loops.  Apparently, the Honey-Nut, Multi-Grain, Frosted, Apple Cinnamon, Yogurt Burst, Berry Burst, Oat Cluster Crunch, and Banana Nut Cheerios varieties have not been able to corner the market on the very lucrative colored-circle-shape-cereal gravy train that ever lovable/possibly high (have you noticed how much sniffing he does? Always following that nose of his…) tropical bird king of Kellogg’s has monopolized for so long.  Just you wait for the unauthorized biographies and movie rights from this one…

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washroom cups

thirsty?

Kelowna’s Capri Centre Mall recently supplied me with this gem in the men’s washroom.  Yes, you are seeing it right, there is a paper cup dispenser IN THIS VERY PUBLIC WASHROOM.  Apparently so many people were running in, cupping their hands under the tap, trying to corral a mouthful, that the big-wigs that make the big decisions around there decided to put a stop to the whole thing.  Instead of installing, say, a drinking fountain, this must have been the next logical cost-cutting step.  I knew there was some reason those guys were in charge…

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And last but clearly not least, Calgary’s Centennial Arenas, home of my sworn enemy Mt. Royal Cougars, has been working ever so diligently to install a new wheelchair ramp to improve the arena’s disabled accessibility.  At completion, the ramp will allow disabled spectators to enter the arena without having to navigate the stairs– they just have to figure out a way over the brick wall at the end of the ramp.

wheelchair ramp FAIL

“Aces & Asses” Volume 3: All Ass Edition.

October 29, 2009 2 comments

This edition features a double dip of despicable.

Recently, my friend Jeff (http://jeff-bourne.webs.com/) had an accident in his wheelchair that lead to an infection in his toes so bad that they needed to be amputated (I’m just going to sum up the story; for a more detailed account of the ordeal, click here: http://www.jtbourne.com/jeffs-ordeal/ ).  So Jeff took it like a man, and entered surgery for the procedure that removed the pinky, ring, and middle toes of his left foot, in hopes of not having to remove his entire foot due to a spreading infection.  The amputation occurred, but Jeff’s body struggled to adapt; he lost nearly 2 litres of blood, began seizuring, and quite soberingly, almost died.  Thankfully he came around, and is recovering now.

Now, here’s the Ass part.  Jeff had a backpack on the back of his wheelchair.  Inside the bag was a laptop; a great hospital time-passer.  Sometime between the initial amputation, room changes, and the life recovery episode, Jeff’s bag went missing. It was later recovered—minus the laptop.  Some jackass (speculatively a drug user looking for pawn collateral) walked into the hospital, and stole the laptop of a man in a wheelchair who was undergoing an amputation, and a life-saving episode.  Is this maybe the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever heard? 

We’ve since learned that Kelowna General Hospital will write it off as an insurance claim, and get Jeff a new computer.  Tip of the cap, KGH.

I don’t wish harm upon many people, but I can think of a few laws I would like to break if I ever ran into the culprit.

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Some people don’t believe in monogamy, and that is their choice.  But some people take this right to opinion a little too far, in my opinion.  I’ve been married for over 2 years now, and I believe marriage to be the definition of love, trust, and commitment between a man and a woman.

The people at the Ashley Madison Agency have created a service that facilitates extra-marital affairs.  Basically a dating site for married people.  You may have seen the ads on TV, or heard them on the radio.  One of their taglines is, “Life is Short.  Have an Affair.” They also offer a 100% money back affair guarantee, bordering the whole service on prostitution.

   I don’t feel like promoting traffic to their website, so I won’t even post a link, but this is all for real.  Oprah, Larry King, Fox News, CNN,Ellen, Dr.Phil, Howard Stern and others have all ran stories on it.  A YouTube search will show you Ashley Madision President and CEO Noel Biderman, a married man and father of two, being lit up by hosts and studio audiences all over the country while trying to justify his service and stance.

Whatever Mr. Biderman uses as a smoke-screen, this is a despicable service.  It promotes infidelity in the hopes that sleeping with someone besides your spouse will provide the happiness in your life that you’ve been missing.  Not only is this an abomination, it’s a flat out lie.  Somehow their guaranteed level of “discreet” will make sure the fallout of families, psychological impact on childen, divorce implications, and every other facet that is attached to cheating on your spouse, will somehow not be an issue. 

These people are making money in one of the most shameless methods I’ve heard to date.  Why don’t terrorists go after these kinds of people (I’m not promoting terrorism)?

A Comic’s Life: The Hustle and the Heckle.

October 24, 2009 7 comments

Over the last few summers, my buddy Justin Bourne and I (www.jtbourne.com) took a liking to our budding local stand-up comedy scene that a local pub in Kelowna had initiated.  What started as a night of amateur-hour at best, slowly migrated into a stop on the Yuk Yuk’s tour, a stage with its own faux-brick wall, and appearances by some top notch talent that has appeared on various TV shows.  After nearly memorizing Jerry Seinfeld’s “I’m Telling You For The Last Time,” and various other comics’ material, we had basically proclaimed ourselves connoisseurs of stand-up comedy; knowing what’s good, and what’s worth changing the channel in hopes of better entertainment.    

It’s always been so hit and miss; between the opening act and the “headliner” (in a few instances, the opener should have been the headliner), you never really know what you’ll get Forrest Gump’ed at you.  One night, both acts could be comedic gold, the next night one might leave the unnecessary sexual material in overdrive (male and female performers alike), and the next would have to clean up the mess, and some nights, both just stink.  It’s incredible how often a comedian will sense that his clean material isn’t working, and will auto-pilot into his dirty stuff as a failsafe, because it’s the lowest common denominator will get some sort of reaction.    

Despite all the variables however, there is always one constant that can always be counted on.  Every single time you show up at a stand-up comedy act, there will always, without fail, be that guy…that one guy—drunk enough that he’s been cut-off by the wait-staff–that insists on heckling, shouting incoherent and irreverent comments that inspire a chorus of “SHUT UP!!” ‘s from everyone trying to enjoy the show.  It’s incredible to try and understand what’s going through the mind of a person whose brain is telling them the smartest and funniest thing they could do at that moment is to shout the name of the comedian loudly, or offer a few inappropriate and off-topic words (not full sentences or coherent thoughts, just a few assorted words) at that moment in time.  Sometimes you’ll even hear an attempt at a joke similar to one that the comedian has already told that night; only this version does not get over in the least, and the amateur funny-man gets lit up like a Christmas tree by the one that’s actually being paid to tell jokes. 

The comedian’s ability to deal with the hecklers is nothing short of amazing.  I can’t recall seeing a comedian crumble under the onslaught of idiotics.  It’s always deflected rather impressively; and the heckler quickly becomes the heckled (only this time, the comedian has the whole audience on his or her side).  Think you could do this at your job, when a customer complains about your service?

There also always ends up being one audience member that ends up as indirect target of offence.  To avoid this, never, EVER, under any circumstances, should you ever put up your hand or offer a response to a question that a comedian is looking for one person to answer.  Trust me on this one, it is only a gateway to your own embarrassment.  As tempting as it might be to inform the talent about anything regarding yourself, keep in mind, it’s all being stored as ammunition against you.  You’ve been warned.  Further, never sit in the front row either; keep a comfortable viewing distance.  It’s for your own good. 

I’ve come to respect the comedian greatly.  If you haven’t, consider some of the factors with me.  According to

my friend, Jeff Dye, doin' it big.

my friend, Jeff Dye, doin' it big.

 Seinfeld (I’m sure there’s some actual research for this), most people are more afraid of speaking in public than of death; meaning they’d rather be dead in a casket than giving a eulogy at a funeral.  I know everyone thinks they can tell a few good jokes here and there, but to lace together a solid set of material that any generic audience will respond to positively, and have it last around an hour is pretty daunting when you think about it.  I’m sure most comedians could tell you more than one story of nights they thought that they had been booked at a cricket convention.  The time, effort, successes and failures accumulated and required over the years would likely break most people. 

You’ll never hear an up-and-coming comedian brag about how much money they’re making either.  They’re out there, night after night, small-town after small-town, telling their jokes about the last city they were in that the current city hates, peddling their merchandise… I respect the hustle.  They’re (usually) doing it because they love to perform.  Getting the kind of passion in a performance that is driven from “love of the game” is worth the $10 cover and my applause any night.

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